Sunday, November 12, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2006 A worker inspects a body outside a hospital morgue in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, November 12, 2006. About 40 unclaimed bodies found in several days from different parts of Baquba will be buried in a mass grave, a hospital morgue worker said. REUTERS/Helmiy al-Azawi (IRAQ) SECURITY INCIDENTS UPDATE Several items of new information since I published this post. -- C Three Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Nov. 11 from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. Four British PT boat crew members killed,3 injured, in attack on boat in the Shatt al-Arab. One is said to have life-threatening injuries. 75 bodies found dumped in Baquba. Undisclosed location Armenian officer injured during mine clearance mission, loses foot. Presumably this occured in the Polish command zone in Wasit province, since the Armenians serve under Polish command. It is possible that this resulted from the same incident in which a Polish and Slovakian soldier were killed yesterday. -- C Baghdad Suicide bomber kills at least 35, wounds 58 at police recruiting center. The reported death toll has steadily risen. This Reuters report is as of 2:30 pm GMT. This AP report gives a slightly lower casualty toll but provides additional detail. Attack occurred in Nissur Square in Western Baghdad. Police spokesman says many injuries are serious, death toll is expected to rise. AFP says there were two suicide bombers, gives the highest total casualties, 35 dead and 60 wounded. AP also reports: A roadside bomb wounded five people in southwestern Um al-Maalif district of Baghdad, police said. I can't match this with any of the incidents reported by AP, appears to be be additional. Also, Reuters reports that Abdul-Mutalib Hassan was wounded, not killed, but that his driver was also injured. The Reuters report is only as of 11:50 GMT so he may have died subsequently. -- C Booby-trapped car in school parking lot in Mahmudiya kills five. I can't match this with any other incidents, appears to be additional -- it is difficult to keep all the car bombings straight today. Suwayrah Three bodies pulled from the Tigris. Latifiyah Patrols were looking for the Sunni gunmen who ambushed a convoy of minibuses at a fake checkpoint near the volatile town of Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The gunmen murdered 10 Shiite passengers before taking their captives to an unknown location, said the spokesman, who asked that his name not be used because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media. A leading Shiite politician warned that local tribes had armed themselves and were headed to the area to join in the search, a move likely to set off even greater bloodshed. Baqubah Five people were killed in various parts of the town. The victims included a teacher, taxi driver, laborer, truck driver and phone company worker, provincial police said. Yusufiyah A car bomb near a primary school killed three people and wounded 15, including students police said. (9 miles south of Baghdad.) Xinhua says unequivocally that the dead were all primary school students. Mahaweel The bodies of two people were found shot dead. (50 miles south of Baghdad.) Mosul Police find 12 unidentified bodies. Reuters also reports mortar rounds landed near a police station, wounding five people on Saturday. Radwaniyah A roadside bomb destroyed a civilian car killing three people. Diyala Five killed, one person abducted near the provincial building. This rather florid dispatch from KUNA gives no further details. (Thanks to Whisker as usual for the assistance.) OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY Dept. of Deja Vu: Maliki calls for major cabinet reshuffle. (I think I've posted the same headline at least three times previously in the past few months. -- C) Excerpt:
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on Sunday for a sweeping cabinet reshuffle, responding apparently to his six-month-old government's failure to rein in sectarian violence and reverse economic collapse. "The prime minister called for a complete ministerial reshuffle in accordance with the current situation," the statement said, describing Maliki's address to a closed session of parliament. Maliki, in power for six months, had said previously he wanted several ministers changed in his national unity coalition but appeared to have run into opposition from major parties as the government struggled to halt raging sectarian violence, economic collapse and widespread corruption. Parliament took no vote, chamber officials said, adding that Maliki gave no details on what changes he might make. He had told Iraqi newspaper editors on Saturday: "By this reshuffle, we want to send a message to all ministers that they may be replaced if they don't succeed." "The government's performance has been unconvincing," said the Shi'ite Deputy Speaker Khaled al-Attiya, who chaired the closed session. "That's why the prime minister wishes to change the cabinet. What we want now is to develop its performance. The cabinet was formed to achieve a political consensus. But some ministers have not been competent. So we need change." Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said there had been a "good response" and said the blocs in parliament, most of which have posts in the coalition, had themselves wanted a reshuffle. He said he did not expect all ministries to change hands, though the premier's language indicated that the scope of the reshuffle was greater than the handful of posts Maliki said he wanted to reassign in August.
Happy talk and staying the course abandoned as Bush plans to meet with Iraq Study Group. And check out what Bolten has to say -- it's like the entire past three years are inoperative. -- C. Excerpt:
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON - President Bush's chief of staff said Sunday "nobody can be happy with the situation" now in Iraq and the White House would consider the idea of U.S. talks with Syria and Iran if a blue-ribbon commission recommended that. President Bush and his national security team planned to meet Monday with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is trying to develop a new course for the war. "We're looking forward to the recommendations," said Josh Bolten, Bush's top aide. With Democrats seizing majorities in the House and Senate in last week's elections and urging a change in Iraq policy, Bolten said the White House is "looking forward to a dialogue with bipartisan leaders in Congress." "Everybody's objective here is to succeed in Iraq. I think that's true of Democrats as well as Republicans. But the president has said we need to get fresh eyes on the problem. We need a fresh perspective," Bolten said. Already, military commanders are re-evaluating strategy to determine what changes are needed "to get ourselves more focused on the correct objectives," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman said last week. The administration, Bolten said, "has always been ready to make a course adjustment" in Iraq. "Nobody can be happy with the situation in Iraq right now. Everybody's been working hard, but what we've been doing has not worked well enough or fast enough," Bolten said. "So it's clearly time to put fresh eyes on the problem. The president has always been interested in tactical adjustments. But the ultimate goal remains the same, which is success in Iraq." Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group with ex-Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, has questioned the administration's policy of not talking to the Iranians or Syrians, whom the United States has accused of helping terrorism, about cooperating on a way to end the violence in Iraq and stabilize the country. Bolten, asked in an interview with CNN's "Late Edition" whether the administration was open to talking to Iran and Syria, said "nothing is off the table. All the options will be considered" from the commission. "There's been lots of talking with Iran and Syria over the years ... The important thing is what do the Iraqis want," he said.
Read in Full Meanwhile, the U.S. generals aren't about staying the course either. This article suggests that they want to take on the Shiite militias. (I don't need to point out the irony for our regular readers. -- C) Full story:
By Foreign News Desk, Sunday, November 12, 2006 zaman.com Following the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. commanders are preparing proposals for a strategy change in Iraq. The U.S. General Staff, which appointed a working group comprised of strategists and military officers charged with coming up with new approaches on Iraq, expects a comprehensive review and assessment within a month. Amid comments indicating that the army would follow a significantly different strategy in Iraq, the size of the military force needed to maintain stability in Iraq and a withdrawal timetable are being hotly debated in the country. U.S. Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Pace declared that the army was considering a probable new orientation in Iraq. In a statement made to CBS, Pace noted that they needed to review what went right and what went wrong, what hampered their progress and what should be changed. The New York Times reported that the special team appointed by Pace would devise a new approach for Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict areas. The reports indicate that the team was comprised of Col/ H. R. McMaster, commander of the unit that took over Telafer city from resistance forces, Col. Peter Mansur, commander of the brigade that fought the Shiite Mahdi Army militias in Karbala in 2004 and Col. Thomas Greewnwood, supervisor of Iraqi forces training. Experts note that in order to end sectarian clashes, the new Pentagon staff under the leadership of Gates has to choose between a deployment of more troops in the conflict zones and the adoption of harsher measures against the Shiite militias, thought to be primarily responsible for much violence in the country. The Pentagon has so far refrained from clashing with the numerous Shiite militias.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, incoming Chair of the Armed Services Committee, calls for phased withdrawal from Iraq starting in 6 months. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, incoming head of the Foreign Relations Committee, endorses the proposal. Congressional Democrats aim to reverse action of Republican Congress to eliminate Iraq watchdog agency. Excerpt:
By James Glanz, David Johnston and Thom Shanker / The New York Times Published: November 12, 2006 WASHINGTON: Congressional Democrats say they will press new legislation next week to restore the power of a federal agency in charge of ferreting out waste and corruption in Iraq and greatly increase its investigative reach. The bills, the first of what are likely to be dozens of Democratic efforts to resurrect investigations of war profiteering and financial fraud in government contracting, could be introduced as early as Monday morning. The move would nullify a Republican-backed provision, slipped into a huge military authorization bill, that set a termination date for the agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The agency's findings have consistently undermined Bush administration claims of widespread success in the reconstruction of Iraq. Oversight, the power wielded by congressional committees to demand information and internal documents and to haul executive branch officials to hearings, by subpoena if necessary, is reverberating through Congress as a Democratic battle cry. "The unilateral decision made by House Republicans to shut down this critical office should be reversed immediately," said Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who is poised to become the majority leader.
Read in Full ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY Sectarian loyalties of Iraqi forces bode ill for handover of authority, according to NYT's Richard A. Oppel, Jr. Excerpt:
It did not take long for Col. Brian D. Jones to begin to have doubts about the new Iraqi commander. The commander, Brig. Gen. Shakir Hulail Hussein al-Kaabi, was chosen three months ago by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad to lead the Iraqi Army's Fifth Division in Diyala Province. Within weeks, General Shakir came to Colonel Jones with a roster of people he wanted to arrest. On the list were the names of nearly every Sunni Arab sheik and political leader that American officers had identified as crucial allies in their quest to persuade Sunnis to embrace the political process and turn against the powerful Sunni insurgent groups here. "Where's the evidence?" Colonel Jones demanded of General Shakir. "Where's the proof? What makes us suspect these guys? None of that stuff exists." To that, Colonel Jones recalled, the Iraqi commander replied simply, "I got this from Baghdad." The incident was one of many that alarmed Colonel Jones, who just completed a yearlong tour as commander of American forces in Diyala. In the end, he said, he concluded that the Iraqi general's real ambition was to destroy the Sunni political movement here - possibly on orders from Baghdad. "I believe this is a larger plan to make Diyala a Shia province, rather than a Sunni province," he said.
Read in Full WaPo's Griff Witte reviews the overall failure of the Iraq reconstruction effort. WaPo's Ricks and Abramowitz see ISG as having few good options to recommend for Iraq, challenge is to find a politically acceptable exit strategy for the U.S. Excerpt:
By Michael Abramowitz and Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, November 12, 2006 After meeting with President Bush tomorrow, a panel of prestigious Americans will begin deliberations to chart a new course on Iraq, with the goal of stabilizing the country with a different U.S. strategy and possibly the withdrawal of troops. Tuesday's dramatic election results, widely seen as a repudiation of the Bush Iraq policy, has thrust the 10-member, bipartisan Iraq Study Group into the kind of special role played by the Sept. 11 commission. This panel, led by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton (D), might play a decisive role in reshaping the U.S. position in Iraq, according to lawmakers and administration officials. Those familiar with the panel's work predict that the ultimate recommendations will not appear novel and that there are few, if any, good options left facing the country. Many of the ideas reportedly being considered -- more aggressive regional diplomacy with Syria and Iran, greater emphasis on training Iraqi troops, or focusing on a new political deal between warring Shiites and Sunni -- have either been tried or have limited chances of success, in the view of many experts on Iraq. Baker is also exploring whether a broader U.S. initiative in tackling the Arab-Israeli conflict is needed to help stabilize the region. Given the grave predicament the group faces, its focus is now as much on finding a political solution for the United States as on a plan that would bring peace to Iraq. With Republicans and Democrats so bitterly divided over the war, Baker and Hamilton believe that it is key that their group produce a consensus plan, according to those who have spoken with them. That could appeal to both parties. Democrats would have something to support after a campaign in which they criticized Bush's Iraq policy without offering many specifics of their own. And with support for its Iraq policy fast evaporating even within its own party, the White House might find in the group's plan either a politically acceptable exit strategy or a cover for a continued effort to prop up the new democratically-elected government in Baghdad.
Read in Full Aaron Glantz reminds us that despite change in control of Congress, we still have the same CinC, expects that in fact, the course will be stayed for a long time to come. For what it's worth, I tend to agree -- C. Excerpt:
SAN FRANCISCO (IPS) - Democratic majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary, will not necessarily mean major changes for the war in Iraq, analysts say. That's primarily because it is the president, and not Congress, that supervises the armed forces and prosecutes war. "The main control Congress has is financial," said Pratap Chatterjee, who directs the non-profit group Corpwatch. "Congress can refuse to pay for the war, which is what they did in Vietnam, but they can't really dictate how it's waged." At this point, defunding the war does not seem likely. The presumed next speaker of the house, Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, told reporters after the election Tuesday that she wants to "work together in a bipartisan way to send a clear message to the Iraqi government and people that they must disarm the militias, they must amend their constitution, [and] they must engage in regional diplomacy to bring real stability and reconstruction to Iraq." Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, the likely majority leader of the new Senate to be seated in January, echoed Pelosi when he told reporters he wants to hold a "bipartisan summit on Iraq" rather than bring the war to a quick end. Even Democrats swept into Congress on a tide of antiwar sentiment talk gingerly around the idea of defunding the war. "It's very important to give our troops the things they need for their own security," Congressman-elect Jerry McNearny of California told IPS. "I don't know if defunding the war is the best way to go. I want to find a way to end that war that makes everyone more secure." Since the Sep. 11 attacks five years ago, Congress has cast a series of votes authorising 448 billion dollars in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the House, each of those votes has been overwhelming with a majority of Democrats, including Pelosi, supporting funding for the war. Every Senate vote on funding the war has been unanimous.
Read in Full Quote of the Day
OF course, the “thumpin’ ” was all about Iraq. But let us not forget Katrina. It was the collision of the twin White House calamities in August 2005 that foretold the collapse of the presidency of George W. Bush. Back then, the full measure of the man finally snapped into focus for most Americans, sending his poll numbers into the 30s for the first time. The country saw that the president who had spurned a grieving wartime mother camping out in the sweltering heat of Crawford was the same guy who had been unable to recognize the depth of the suffering in New Orleans’s fetid Superdome. This brand of leadership was not the “compassionate conservatism” that had been sold in all those photo ops with African-American schoolchildren. This was callous conservatism, if not just plain mean.
Frank Rich


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?